An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more ligaments in the ankle, usually on the outside of the ankle. They occur when a ligament connecting bones or cartilage of the ankle is strained (overly stretched), ruptured, or torn.
Ankle sprains can be classified by the extent of damage to the ligament. First degree sprains are the most common and the mildest. In first degree sprains, ligaments are overly stretched but not torn, and pain and swelling are minimal. The injured person can put weight on the ankle. In moderate, second degree sprains, the ligament is partially torn, and pain and swelling are greater due to bleeding from torn tissue. Third degree sprains are the most serious, and can even (rarely) require surgery. A third degree sprain requires a long period of rehabilitation to heal fully. A third degree sprain may be accompanied by a popping sound and your ankle may look strangely twisted. Swelling is usually severe; the skin may be discolored. Weight cannot be put on the injured ankle.
What is the cause?
They usually result from the foot turning inward, stretching or tearing the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. Ankle sprains commonly occur while participating in sports, wearing inappropriate shoes, or walking or running on an uneven surface. Sometimes ankle sprains occur because of weak ankles, a condition that some people are born with. Previous ankle or foot injuries can also weaken the ankle and lead to sprains.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of an ankle sprain include severe pain; inability to put weight on the foot; swelling; bruising, as well as the feeling of instability.
What is the treatment?
•Rest and stay off the foot. Elevate it above the level of your hips whenever possible. Even a mild sprain can take one or two weeks to heal.
•Apply ice to the ankle as often as possible for the first two or three days following the injury.
•Use an elastic bandage to compress the swelling.
•Take aspirin or an anti-inflammatory medication to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
•Use crutches or a cane to keep the weight off your foot.
In more severe cases, surgery may be required to adequately treat an ankle sprain. Surgery often involves repairing the damaged ligament or ligaments.